The 2018 ABSA Cape Epic rolled out of the UCT sports campus in Cape Town this morning with a full house of ladies racing in the elite women’s category. The 20km prologue with around 600m of climbing would be a good test to get the riders ready for 7 stages ahead.
With only 9% of the field made up of women and some of those participating in the mixed category, the racing amongst the women’s teams was sure to be fast and furious in the close racing field. The prologue morning is always exciting as the crowds gathered to watch the women do battle on the slops of Table Mountain.
Amateur riders were buzzing around the start eager to get away. Noticeable were the LIV trail squad ladies teams. A group of riders made up of ladies whom had not met their partners prior to the race and some whom had only ridden together for short amounts of time. All were riding under the banner of the LIV squad. A great advertisement for women’s mountain biking. I suggest you check out this great initiative. It was great to chat to these ladies about their passion and how they were looking forward to riding the untamed. Mid morning saw the UCI ladies rolling up to get their epic campaigns underway. The ladies were focused on the task ahead and all rolled away with one thing in mind, to be the fastest back to UCT and claiming a clear advantage going into Stage 1. The field this year was deep and wide. The top 5 teams all having big credentials to match. It was anyone’s race with Langvad/Courtney, Luthi/Michiels , Spitz/de Groot, Strauss/Last and the Dormakaba ladies all with a chance to clinch the 20km prologue. Langvad/Courtney blitzed through the field, passing slower teams and riding a smart race, working off each others strengths. Coming home in a time of 53:18 and claiming the win, the ladies were ecstatic to claim the top step. Coming home in second, 1:12 back were the pair of Luthi/Michiels. A wonderful performance for the new pair. Third home with a gap of 2:14 to the leaders were Ascendis Health pair of Spitz/de Groot. A single second behind in fourth was the runner up team from 2017 of Strauss/Last.
Langvad on their Prologue winning ride: "We had a really good strategy in our mind and it played played out to perfection today."
Robyn de Groot: "Nice leg-loosener. Nice way to get the engines going and get started. We kept it safe. Everything was good as a team. I am happy to have Sabine (Spitz) back as my teammate and looking forward to racing the week next to her – there are some big days ahead."
Ariane Luthi: "I was really happy with second. Racing for an hour is a gear up from what I am used to and to race against the cross country riders is really hard on a stage like this. My partner Githa Michiels went super hard ... I am very pleased to have her on my side."
An exciting result for Dormakaba’s Mcdougall and Lill as they came home in 5th and lead the new African Women’s jersey race.
Candice Lill riding with Amy Beth McDougall as Team dormakaba : “Obviously with the last-minute pairing we had to re-adjust our strategy. After just one ride we can see our strengths and weaknesses ... the Prologue was never going to be our strength so I was pretty happy.”
A great opening to what will surely be a thrilling week of cat and mouse for all the top ladies teams.